Search Results for: yardmageddon

Yardmageddon 2012: Part 2 – A Professional Asskicking

The landscaper we hired brought a team and spent nearly 8 hours kicking our yard’s ass.  They even power washed the driveway!

Some “after”s:

This tree is coming down next week, since everyone and their mother has told us they think it’s going to fall (on them, somehow).  It’s going to be a lot different without the ol’ leaning tree right out front!

Let’s all lol at the neglected backyard, which looks 50 times uglier since the front yard’s facelift:

Yeah, we’ll get on that soon.  No one can see it but us, though, and we really don’t mind.  It’s natural!  Isn’t that in these days, anyway?

Yardmageddon 2012: Part 1 – Side Yard Slaughter

We never go in this part of the yard.  Honestly, I think we forgot it belongs to us.  It’s a useless alley hardly large enough to hold a garbage bin, but that’s exactly what we’re going to put in it:  our three carts will have a new home here once we’re done weeding and mulching.  The weeds got a bit out of hand – foliage grows fast in Washington!  Fortunately, they are easy to pull out.

20 minutes of weeding, a trip to Home Depot and 4 bags of mulch later:

We pulled out the rest of the weeds a few days later.  Minutes after taking this pic, it began to rain (hard).

Yay, rain! Now we can go inside!! (This is one of the things I love about living in Washington.)

What to compromise on when buying a house? (And what to ignore?)

what to compromise on when buying a house

You can compromise and still love the house you get!

A friend of mine asked an interesting question on Facebook the other day:  “When buying a house, what did you sacrifice? Location?  Commute? House size? Age?”

It’s a really good question, and it got me thinking.  What do you compromise on when buying a house?  We spent 9 months looking at houses a couple years ago, and we learned a lot about what we were willing to compromise on (and what we weren’t).

Here’s what I told her:

We refused to compromise on:

  • Affordability.  This is our #1 do-not-compromise.  We absolutely will not leverage both our incomes when determining whether we can afford a potential mortgage.  The Two Income Trap is my favorite book on this subject, I highly recommend reading it – following this book’s advice made living on one income for a while much easier than it should’ve been.
  • Commute – It was convenient to the job we used to have, not so much now post-job change
  • Location on street – I didn’t want cars driving straight towards my house all the time, and I didn’t want to be near major neighborhood roads
  • Garage capacity – Must be 2+ for us, we reeaaally wanted to use half of it for our dream home gym
  • Incorporated – We like city services
  • Distance from expressway/noise sources – We put a one mile buffer between our local major highway and our house search zone
  • Structural integrity – Expensive to fix
  • Driveway slope – No X-TREME slope driveways, we wanted a flat driveway.  This was surprisingly difficult to find.
  • Number of bathrooms – Must have at least 2 potties, preferably 2 places to shower as well
  • Floorplan – Some homes had really freaking weird floor plans, some just too weird for us.  Floorplans are like location – pretty much impossible to change.
  • And no more f***ing HOAs. EVER!!!

We compromised on:

  • House’s interior condition – We took on a LOT of projects (big and small) when we bought this house, but the house’s condition is what let us buy into our neighborhood.
  • Kitchen size – Ours has one of the smallest kitchens we looked at. A small kitchen turned out to be not as bad as we’d feared.
  • Number of floors – We had hoped for a one story, ended up with two floors. Going up and down stairs keeps me trim.
  • Terrain – We’re atop a really steep hill. There’s no “but that’s okay because” to this one, my Taurus busted out a misfiring cylinder climbing it. We now take a longer, shallower back route up the hill.
  • Walkability – The nearest grocery store is a fairly walkable 1.5 miles, but that’s it.
  • Yard size – Our yard much larger than we’d hoped for. It’s more than we can maintain, but we’re doing a bit of DIY landscaping each year to improve it.
  • Commute – When we changed jobs, our commute went from 20 mins round trip to 60 mins round trip. Boo, hiss.
  • Popcorn ceilings  – Ugggh, our popcorn ceiling was so ugly and dirty-looking, and removing the popcorn was so expensive and messy we only did the downstairs.
  • Old windows – Any home that came with new windows also came with a 20%+ higher listing price. We just live with ’em.
  • Leaking master shower – We’ll fix this someday, but for the last three years we’ve made do with the shower in our DIY’d hallway bathroom.
  • View and noise – Our apartment had a much nicer view and a quieter street.
  • House color – It’s not the color I’d have picked, and it’d be a shame to spend thousands to paint over what appears to be a recent paint job. We just live with it.
  • Broken furnace – There went several grand before we could even move in.  It was worth it, the new furnace is much more efficient than the 18-year-old furnace it replaced.

We ignored:

  • Flooring or wall colors – Easy to replace
  • Dated light fixtures – Slightly less easy to replace
  • Dirt – We scrubbed it all off
  • Backyard deck – Ours is small, we don’t care (we’re not “deck people”).

In essence, most of the things we ignored when buying our house were things that could be fixed with effort or cash. In some cases, we lived with these things until we had time and budget for fixing them – downstairs flooring, popcorn ceiling, kitchen cabinet colors, light fixtures.

I’m sure this is different for everyone, and to varying degrees in each category.  If you’re a home owner, what did you sacrifice?  And what did you refuse to compromise on when buying a house?

House Tour

House at nighttime twilight

Our perfect place to surf the web, play Rock Band, read a good book, or watch a Doctor Who marathon.

Where: Seattle, Washington
When we moved in: December 2010

Living in an apartment was nice for a little while, but our hearts desired a place we could and play Rock Band at deafening volumes.  So we went house hunting and found this baby: build in 1977, located on the Eastside of Seattle, this place needed some serious love when we found it.  Fortunately, we had lots of love to give it.

Our goals:

  • Create a comfortable place to live with space for all our indoor hobbies (app development, computer games, console games, cosplay, sewing, weight lifting… yeah, we are indoors people!)
  • Sharpen our DIY skills
  • Increase the home’s resale value – we got it at a bargain, but there’s work to do to catch it up to the rest of the neighborhood!

Our mottos:

  • You can learn anything on the Internet!
  • If we seriously screw it up, we can hire a contractor
  • The ER is open all the time, right?

So where are we now, after 3 years of home improvement?

Front Exterior

  • Replaced all exterior lamps (~$100)
  • Removed monster hedge along driveway (free)
  • Tore down rusting tool shed (free)
  • Replaced falling-down fence section ($200)
  • Tree removal, landscaping cleanup & maintenance (some labor from us plus ~$3000 worth of tools, hired help)
  • Replacement roof support post ($800)

December 2010

I took this photo the week we moved in. The car is outside because the garage is packed with moving boxes! Also note the giant hedge along the driveway and the sagging roof over the front entrance.

Side Yard

May 2011

Our side-yard had been neglected.  I pulled these weeds out myself (no rupees were found :\ )

November 2012

Vegetation killer + mulch (and some utility paint, because this photo was taken when our water line broke!)


  • Planted three arborvitaes and four shrubs
  • New mulch
  • Trimmed neighbor’s invasive tree branches (you’re welcome)

May 2013

The backyard came with about a month’s worth of dog poop.  After the poop was picked up, all that remained was a bare and boring yard.


June 2013

Shrubs! Green things!  We planted these arborvitaes in May 2013. backyard_planted


  • Set up a killer home gym (wanting a home gym was one of our reasons for buying this place!)
  • Replaced furnace (the old one was 18 years old!)
  • Replaced water heater in 2012 (the old one blew a leak onto my elliptical and TV)
  • Painted grimy walls with some surplus “oat cake” colored paint

December 2011

Family Room

December 2010

This is how it looked the first week we owned the place, after I pulled out the 1994 carpet.

June 2011

Six months into living here, it’s starting to feel cozy.  The couch is too small for both of us (it dates back when I lived alone) and the TV’s kinda small for how far away we sit.

December 2012

Painted the walls green to match the kitchen. Also swapped heavy red drapes for white wispy drapes.

June 2013

Brought home an IKEA Karlstad couch and a new Samsung television.  Finally, we can both fit on the couch and see the TV.



January 2011


January 2013



Dining Room

  • Had the popcorn ceiling professionally scraped off
  • New drapes
  • Removed heavy wooden blinds
  • Replaced dated chandelier
  • Painted window frames white
  • Replaced electrical outlets & plates
  • Removed carpet and replaced with Shaw laminate flooring
  • Painted walls “Toasted Almond”
  • Painted wood trims white
  • Caulked where wood trims meet walls

December 2010

From humble beginnings…

January 2014


Living Room

This room spent most of its life with us as a dropzone for charity donations, junk, and new projects.  During the Christmas season the living room is home to our Christmas tree and our many plushies (who like to congregate around the tree).

December 2010


January 2013

June 2013

We moved the older sofa into this room and tossed a lot of the junk. Holy wow, did it ever help.



Downstairs Bathroom

  • Fresh paint on wood trim, walls, and ceiling
  • Installed new lighting fixtures
  • Hung a new, lighter weight mirror
  • New toilet paper spindle and towel bar
  • Installed a new vanity (a $40 find at Home Depot!)
  • Shaw laminate flooring

 February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

Entrance Hallway



Upstairs Bathroom

  • Replaced toilet, vanity
  • Removed sliding glass doors from shower
  • Strip of new shower tiles to replace the damage caused by the shower door frame
  • Fresh paint on walls
  • Replaced broken bathroom fan
  • Replaced light fixture, light switch, electrical outlet
  • Hung new mirror

December 2010

May 2011

Master Bedroom

  • Fresh coat of paint on walls
  • Replaced loose / worn out electrical outlets
  • Installed new carpeting
  • Covered windows with light-blocking drapes
  • Added a few decorations

December 2010

July 2011

Computer Room

  • Wall paint + carpet
  • New ceiling light fixtures
  • Curtains for both windows
  • Standing desks
  • Guest bed for visitors

December 2010

+ Carpet and computers

June 2011

November 2012

Painted grey and added standing desks (not shown).

Sewing Room

  • OMG, the paint
  • Installed new carpet

It was love at first sight when we stepped into the largest bedroom, with its almost 13′ x 13′ dimensions and huge window with a view of the front yard trees… except for the wall paint, which was pretty dark and took a whole bucket of Kilz to cover up.

November 2010

December 2010

July 2011

Master Bathroom

  • Painted the hated lavender walls white
  • Refinished the vanity in effort to bring it into the 21st century

The floor is buckling in numerous places (Allure is a terrible product that has no place in your home, letalone your bathroom) and the shower is unusable due to missing wall tiles.

June 2011


January 2013


Small Bedroom

  • This is where we keep our junk.  We don’t have a basement. :)


Keeping it Real

The nightmare of mess and chaos behind the before and afters.


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